Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Packed for Nam

I'm packed and ready to head for Namibia for the Fish River Challenge. Flight tomorrow is at lunch time and I'm so looking forward to meeting race organiser, Tinus Hansen. It is quite something to get an event off the ground; planning, admin, logistics, funding... it's a big project. Well done to Tinus and his team. We started talking about this race at the beginning of September last year so I've eagerly anticipated it for a year. And now it is here! Hip-hip-hooray.

This is my first major race of the year. I was so pooped at the end of last year; juggling full-time job with a client plus freelance client commitments, new Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge team (third year of participation) and lots of paddle training, getting first and second FEAT events off the ground... let's just say that when this year rolled around I so wasn't ready for it and I've had little respite. Aside from the Kinetic Adventure sprint AR events, regular orienteering events and the odd other race here and there, I haven't done any proper racing. Yeah, I even skipped Expedition Africa because I couldn't face organising a team, gear, travelling etc.

On the other hand, training has been good. In May when I started my '35 Days of Running' leading up to my 35th birthday. I really needed this to regroup and take my running back a notch in order to go forward a notch. That has been the most wonderful foundation and I'm feeling great. At the beginning of the year I started going to ashtanga yoga classes - I usually go once or twice a week. This month I've been slack with other committments... but I do get in some shortened self-practise sessions. I've nailed some really tricky acrobatic moves in pole class, I've even done some rides on my bike outside of races! and I'm learning how to do a free-standing handstand (my technique has improved and shoulders and wrists are adapting, but I'm not there yet).

But definitely time for a trip and an adventure. Feet have been itchy, really itchy, for months.

Nice this about this Fish River Challenge... it's me, my running shoes and my day pack. And a lovely little flight from Jo'burg to Windhoek - flight duration of only an hour. I've put some TED talks on my phone to watch during the flight (if I don't fall asleep, which I'm in the habit of doing on planes, especially short flights!).

In packing my stuff today I was thinking how I've developed habits over the years. I've got this red/pink floral Hawaiian print fabric bag that I got my race info and goodies in at H.U.R.T. a 100km and 100-mile run in Hawaii, which I did in Jan 2006 (was it?) with my dear friend Bob with Heath as Bob's support and our entertainment. At an AR it is the bag that holds my Buffs, crop tops, knickers and socks in my race crate. For a race like this, I fill it with the clothing I'll be wearing on race day. I think this bag has come with me to every race since I got it.

My 'jungle Buff', which Bob gave me after I ran the inaugural Jungle Marathon in Brazil in Sept 2003, also goes to every race. It is in my Hawaiian bag, ready for Saturday morning.

I use little drybags for headlamps, spare battery, space blanket and knife. I usually move knife to top zipper pocket on race day. when you need a knife, you'll need to to be accessible.

Race food is usually similar from race to race, with some variations. This time I've got gels, 32Gi chews (my new favourite), some bars and then crunchy munchies like corn nuts, salted mixed roasted nuts, some Woolies crisps and some crackers. Got some dried fruit roll, cut into bits (a banana-something one and a berry one) for when I feel like a bit of sweetness; I don't usually.

I always pack my light-weight Capestorm Helium jacket. It is just over eight years old and has also accompanied me on every race and every trip in the last nine years. Our team won that Clarens 150km (or there abouts) that Hano organised in early 2003. It's the original version and I still favour it above all the new stuff. It is not much like the current version.

I've got a small first aid kit. Of course it has a sachet of Arnicamill Arnica oil and a bunch of myprodol / genpyn (red and green anti-inflam capsules). If these can't fix the problem, then you've got a big problem. Also always carry spare contact lenses, small bottle of solution and a mirror. Always have lip balm. Got a little container of baby powder (feet) and a sachet of Arnicamill's fabulous anti-chafe cream. Good for chaffing; excellent for between-toes lubrication. We used it with great success in Abu Dhabi last year. Also got a couple of token plasters; but as always I aim to never let a hot spot get to the point of being a blister.

What else... Have packed my little -GotU unit to track my run - and to see post-race how slow (or not) I'm moving through the canyon. From what I remember from the winter Kinetic Full Moon last year, I've got just under 18 hours of battery on the unit. So, I'd better move my butt! I've had this little thing for well over a year now, I think, and I really love using it at O events, odd runs and logging paddle distances.

Got my camera. A run is not a fabulous run unless I get some good photos.

Have a new toy I bought last week -  a Vapur anti-bottle water container. Nice thing about this little friend is that I can't fit a bottle into my pack. I prefer to run with a hydration reservoir anyway but I always think a bottle could be useful - maybe I'd want a rehydration sachet with some delicious river water? Because this is a flat unit (and not completely rounded even when filled) it fits neatly in the netting compartment on the outside of my pack. I've got the 500ml anti-bottle. And, it has a little carabiner so I can't lose it. How cool is that?

And I've got two headlamps packed - Petzl Myo XP and Black Diamond Spot. I like them both and figure that when it gets dark two headlamps are better than one down in the canyon when you want to still keep moving swiftly. I look forward to playing with them in the proper darkness of the Namibian night (moon is almost gone).

And lastly, I added some decoration to my backpack -  a crocheted flower. Hahaha ;)

I'll take pics in situ.

Oh golly - time to get to bed. I won't be posting from the race. Delighted to be out of contact for a few days.

Till Monday night - byyyeeee!

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